Ricky Warwick: When Patsy Cline Was Crazy / Hearts On Trees

Almighty/Black Star Riders man’s electric/acoustic two-album triumph.

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The battle-scarred streets of the Greater Belfast area where Ricky Warwick grew up have all the ingredients for a epic modern western played out as a roots rock’n’country opera.

And the combined effect of the electrified Patsy, filled with wounded, foot-on-monitor anthems (Celebrating Sinking), and the Hearts-lifting acoustic companion fits the bill magnificently.

Songs written with long-time pal Sam Robinson thrum with character detail as Johnny Ringo and Tank McCullough make their stand. The country music connection is played to unflinching and barbed, while resoundingly uplifting, effect.

The blood-and-soil rivalries and prejudices of Northern Ireland’s history have universal application. Bidding a rousing farewell to tub-thumping rivalries (and hypocrisies) on such as Schwaben Redoubt, Warwick’s history lesson strikes chords aplenty. If Steve Earle was younger, and from Belfast, these are the albums you’d hope he’d make. Courageous and compelling.